For more than 16 years, Kyle Metzger has been moving around the country serving the United States Coast Guard. From Florida to New York, Kentucky to now Louisiana, Metzger has been all over.
As he moved from state to state, Metzger was receiving an education in bass fishing. Now, he is ready to put those lessons to the test on the big stage.
With a new role in the Coast Guard as a Boatswain’s Mate and Gulf fisheries instructor in New Orleans, Metzger was able to sign up for all three events in Division 2 of the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens and made quite the impression in his first event at Toledo Bend.
Despite it being his first time ever on a timber lake, the 34-year-old finished sixth with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 10 ounces. After catching 21-14 on Day 1, Metzger never left the Top 10 and made the most of the changing conditions in his areas.
Fishing professionally is something Metzger has dreamed of for a long time.
“I have wanted to do this forever,” he said. “Since the TNN days and watching it and making casts in the canal catching bluegill and eventually bass when I was 3 years old. I started tournament fishing when I was 16 and joined the Coast Guard at 18. I kept fishing between here and there.”
Some of the anglers he watched growing up were actually anglers he competed against in the Open, anglers like Rick Clunn, Zell Rowland and more recently Jason Christie and Bobby Lane.
“My buddy Chris Beaudrie fishes all nine and you hear the stories from the road, but until you are out here experiencing it it is hard to understand,” he said. “When you see them at the boat ramp, you get goosebumps. They are definitely all Mr.’s and sirs to me.”
Metzger began his military career as an E3 on a ship in Key West before going to Pascagoola, Miss., and then Paducah, Ky. It was in Paducah, the ledge bite on Kentucky Lake was at its peak, that Metzger realized he had a golden opportunity.
“I got to experience Kentucky Lake, and that’s when a light switch kind of flipped. I said, ‘The Coast Guard is going to pay me to learn how to fish,’” he said. “From there I went to upstate New York and I learned St. Lawrence River and Cayuga. I was sent to Puerto Rico for a two-year deployment, and now I’m back stateside and have a good job.”
Metzger experienced just about every type of bass fishery possible now. In Mississippi he learned how to fish tidal water. His station in New York was close to the St. Lawrence River and Cayuga Lake, two of the best smallmouth fisheries in the world.
Toledo Bend was one of the areas he had not checked off his list before this event. When he arrived, he had prepared to fish offshore. But with water rising, he went shallow and used the techniques he learned at Kentucky Lake to catch his big bag Day 1.
“I haven’t run a timber lake in my life to this point,” Metzger said. “I made a wrong turn (Day 1) and had to u-turn and come back. But it fished exactly like Kentucky Lake in the spring. It is identical. I tried to make the offshore thing play, but at the end of the day with the rising water I started beating the banks and found certain things in the good areas. It is buck brush, and within that buck brush there are a couple of nuances.”
Around the buck brush he was fishing, the bass were spawning in little depressions, which were carved out by rainwater making its way to the lake from the bank. Unfortunately, that pattern held up for just one day as the water began to fall during Day 2. On the second and final day, he focused on shallow cypress trees and caught just enough to notch his first Top 10.
This is only the beginning of his Opens career. Metzger can retire from the Coast Guard in three years. Once he does, he will enter the Elite Qualifiers race to work towards his goal of fishing the Elite Series.
“I am finally in a good position at work so I can start fishing some Opens. I will be fishing full-time eventually,” he said. “I could only get off for one division this year. I will retire in three years, and then I will join the EQ’s 100%. That is my primary goal.”